UPDATE: Asda refusal was ‘slap in the face’ of localism, says developer

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The Selsey Asda developer, Landlink Estates, has said it is disappointed and frustrated by a decision to refuse its application.

Chichester District Council’s planning committee this morning voted in favour of refusing the application which includes 144 homes, a restaurant, hotel and petrol station.

However the Environmental Statement publicity for this application expires tomorrow so the committee could only advise officers of the decision they would be minded to make and this decision could only be implemented by officers if no material changes to the plan were made within 24 hours.

Landlink has said it will make a material change tonight and ensure the committee’s refusal does not proceed.

Michael Fletcher, head of development at Landlink, said: “Today’s result was disappointing and frustrating, particularly to all those in Selsey who desperately need homes, all-year jobs and funds to expand schools, improve highways, etc.

“It was also a slap in the face of the localism process, as the scheme was not only supported in the main by Selsey Town Council, but is part of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.

“It was clear that the election got ahead of the planning process, and this was always a risk with this scheme at this time.

“We tried to steer the application away from the election, but it’s been delayed so much already we just wanted to get it heard.

“The decision was to support, 9 to 8, an individual member’s resolution to refuse.

“However, as the publicity period had not expired, a decision on the day of the hearing would not be legal.

“This allows Landlink to submit a material amendment enabling the resolution to be void and the scheme re-heard clear of the election.

“Failing that, the application will be re-submitted and/or appealed.

“In Landlink’s opinion, the grounds for that refusal were not factually correct or sustainable.

“Such a refusal, which seemed to be based on political caution prior to an election, could put the planning officers and CDC in a very difficult position.

“The planning officers and applicants spent many months with all of the statutory advisers looking at the scheme in very deep technical detail.

“Every aspect of this scheme has been examined beyond belief.

“The Planning Officers recommended approval of the scheme, and CDCs solicitor advised that a sound legal reasons to refuse would be hard to find.

“Councillors voted in support of the member’s motion seeking refusal regardless.

“The vote was very close.

“It was clear from some objecting Councillors statements that they had not read all of the documentation, nor had they understood a lot of the scheme.

“Only one had asked Landlink any questions prior to the hearing

“It was noted that some Councillors followed reasoning submitted by a small group of objectors, which was factually incorrect and contrary to CDC’s own experts.

“The motion to refuse is highly appealable, but Landlink will be working with CDC to avoid that process as it is costly and a waste of more time.

“The scheme is strongly supported in Selsey residents and the most common question I get is ‘when are you going to build the store?’ and ‘when can stop having to drive to Chichester for groceries?’.

“It is common for few people come to support planning applications, in comparison with those that object.

“However, in this scheme, there has been a good level of declared support.

“The proposal is important for the future of Selsey and Landlink would like more people to have their say when the application is re-heard.”